Economists predict huge spending increase nationwide, possibly starting Memorial Day weekend

May 28, 2021, 8:09 PM | Updated: 8:12 pm
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SALT LAKE CITY — It’s not going to be a shake-up … it’ll be an earthquake.  That’s what economists are predicting will happen to consumer spending over the next several months. In particular, Utah’s leisure industry is expected to see a massive boost. 

Analysts with Wells Fargo said spending for some of the nation’s key industries has already recovered to pre-pandemic levels.  Managing Director Mark Vitner said they knew spending on other industries like leisure, hospitality and tourism would go back up after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.  However, they said they didn’t know when this would happen.  Vitner said it appears we won’t have to wait much longer.

“We’re looking for spending to really pick up this weekend, as Memorial Day hits.  It’s just the time that everything seems to be clicking,” Vitner said.  “Really, it’s the suddenness that is so jarring.”

Their analysts expect we could see the equivalent of four years of spending growth crammed into the next nine to 12 months.  Vitner said Americans have a lot more money saved right now because they didn’t spend on things like travel, movies, entertainment and dining out during the pandemic.  Wells Fargo forecasts that spending could rise by $700 billion, nationwide, by the end of the year.

Vitner believes new recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for facemasks will make people more confident about being around others.  But at the same time, he said a lot of people still want to get away from the crowds.

“Even though folks are feeling more comfortable about getting out and about and being around other people, there still seems to be a real preference for doing things outdoors where you have some fresh air and a little more space,” Vitner said.

That means Utah’s tourism industry could cash in, big time.

“Utah is a top tourist destination and it’s the type of tourism that people really want right now,” he said.

It could take longer for Utah’s convention industry to make a recovery, since conventions take much longer to plan than quick trips.  However, Vitner believes that conventions may return to normal by the fall or winter.

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Economists predict huge spending increase nationwide, possibly starting Memorial Day weekend